By Tom Brown
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa
A High School Essay
The apartheid secret police had him in solitary for eleven months. Can you imagine how strong the man's mind must be? And I may say this openly and without fear.
A very successful businessman and big cattle farmer Cyril Ramaphosa is very wealthy. Born in Johannesburg he is now 67. One has the impression of an open, friendly and honest but very shrewd man.
As proficient in languages and fluent in several he is known for including a variety of South African languages when delivering speeches.
His academic education was in South Africa he graduated at the University of South Africa (Unisa) earning a degree in Law in 1981. Amongst much other recognition there has been honorary doctorates and distinguished awards.
He played a crucial role during the multi-party negotiations to bring about a peaceful end to apartheid and taking the country towards its first democratic elections in April 1994, and the drafting of the new constitution. As the ANC chief negotiator Cyril Rhamaposa played an undoubted prominent part in our country's peaceful transition to democracy.
Rhamaphosa appears to be of very good health and energetic still, strong of good vitality and well able to lead the country into the 2020s.
I hope and believe him to be of the mettle of previous heads of state and of the integrity and intellect of the former President Thabo Mbeki and the charisma, visionary and wisdom of Nelson Mandela. Also a gentleman such as Dr Chief Mangosotho Buthelezi. Cyril Rhamaphosa in continuing the proud tradition lifted the rugby world cup triumphantly this year, the third time by a South African state president! A great symbolic victory!
At the moment things do not look good concerning general affairs and the economy as a whole. Improving the living circumstances of our population, crime prevention and fighting unemployment and poverty must be our absolute priority. More specifically must be addressed bankrupt and corrupt municipalities and inadequate and inaccessible public health services.
Civil unrest is an extremely serious problem and the very widespread dissatisfaction and desperation cannot be ignored.
He has his work cut out for him (and us!) but we have a history of tradition of tolerance and goodwill as a nation and a reputation as a people and as individuals as tenacious and extremely resilient.
Mr Ramaphosa is the fifth and current President of South Africa. In South Africa our president is elected for a five year term by the ruling party. Elected President of the ANC at the ANC National Conference in December 2017 after the resignation of President Jacob Zuma, Mr Ramaphosa was sworn in as President of the Republic of South Africa on 15 February 2018.
Cyril Ramaphosa was elected state president by the National Assembly to his first full term on May 22 following the ANC's victory in the 2019 South African general election. Since he had followed up as president during a term he was eligible for another two terms, starting with the last general election at the beginning this year, that is five years each.
Landmarks and Milestones
Born in Soweto, Johannesburg on 17 November 1952, he attended Tshilidzi Primary School and Sekano Ntoane High School. In 1971 he matriculated from Mphaphuli High School in Venda and elected head of the Student Christian Movement.
He subsequently registered to study law at the University of the North. Continuing academic studies with the University of South Africa he graduated in Law in 1981 while working for a Johannesburg firm of attorneys.
As academic in October 1991 he was a visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University in the United States and is currently the Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga.
A political activist and trade union leader, after completing his legal qualifications Ramaphosa joined the Council of Unions of South Africa (CUSA) and started a union for mineworkers, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Ramaphosa was elected as the first General Secretary a position he held until he resigned in June 1991, following his election as Secretary General of the African National Congress.
During the fight against apartheid in 1985 NUM broke away from CUSA and then helped to establish the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM).
Ramaphosa had been involved in student politics and joined the South African Students Organisation (SASO) and and the Black People's Convention (BPC). Activity and prominent participation in student movements and trade unions resulted in him being detained in solitary confinement for eleven months in 1974. In 1976 he was detained again following the unrest in Soweto and was held for six months.
In July 1986 he went into hiding after the declaration of a state of emergency, in effect a countrywide martial law. Later he had become head of the negotiation team of the ANC in negotiating the end of apartheid with the National Party government.
After the unbanning of the ANC in 1991 he was elected ANC Secretary General. He became head of the ANC’s negotiation team at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) and the subsequent multi-party talks.
Cyril Rhamaposa was elected by the ANC at the National Conference in December 2017 and became president of the ANC on 18 December 2017. He was deputy president.
President Ramaphosa was as acting president elected and sworn in as President of the Republic of South Africa on Thursday 15 February 2018 following the resignation of President Jacob Zuma. His first full term on May 22 followed on the ANC's victory in the 2019 general election.
Sentiments were very optimistic on the markets with stocks climbing the day after Ramaphosa assumed full-term office as state president in 2019. The rand was the strongest since 2015 and government bonds gained but stock exchanges have lost ground since then.
Since Mr Ramaphosa became president he has made the eradication of corruption and fraud in the state as well as private sectors very urgent matters, the war against crime as well as priorities land reform and in general recovering the ailing economy.
Cyril Ramaphosa was Nelson Mandela's choice for future president.
South Africa hosted the 11th BRICS summit in July 2018 in Johannesburg. BRICS is an association of five emerging national economies, Brazil, Russia , India China and South Africa.
With personal consultation in international state affairs in Asia, Europe and Africa there was direct political involvement and official visits to amongst more Vietnam and Singapore, Northern Ireland, Angola, Zambia and Rwanda.
He also sat on the international commission of NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development.
Personal life, business and politics
On completion of the constitution drafting process and subsequently losing to Thabo Mbeki elected as state president of the ANC, he had resigned from his political positions in January 1997 to move into commerce especially black owned business and the board of some very large companies.
As philanthropist Ramaphosa publicly declared in May 2018 that he would be donating half of his salary as president to charity in honour of late former president Mandela. The gesture was meant as encouraging personal sacrifice and the rich to commit and dedicate some of their income to help build the nation.
Cyril Ramaphosa is a very private person and not much is known about his home and family life. He is married to Tshepo Motsepe a medical doctor, he has been married previously and has five children.
The Dawn of Africa
A lot can happen in a decade very much can be done a great deal achieved. Although the economy is really battling now one should realise again the inherent wealth of our natural resources and the treasures of our great mineral inheritance.
With commerce and industry under strong leadership with integrity and firm discipline we are in fact an extremely rich country with highly skilled and diverse people.
Remember we are almost free of all serious and critical kinds of unexpected natural disaster and wars often occurring in even very rich countries including big world economies. This makes all the difference, the grass is not greener on the other side.
The President is a great leader and an example for all South Africans. South Africa belongs to all its people we have to stand together as sisters and brothers. The work and challenges are there and to again truly unify all our peoples as citizens and countrymen.
Mr Ramaphosa is the President we have to honour him as person and as leader so that we, everybody, can work together apart from other political affiliations to build our young democracy.
Things are in a bad state now there are difficulties and very serious problems to overcome on our journey, there will be many obstacles and hurdles. We have to persevere, be strong and carry on courageously filled with hope and faith.
Throughout history in the darkest times there stood up great men and women, of courage and insight, good men, strong women. They are there when they are needed. They are planted, not sown.
A man for his time, the right man at the right place.
May the Sun rise over Africa!